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advice buying recording studio equipment

Member for

3 years
How it going everyone? I’m new to the site and new to the subject as well...for a long time I’ve wanted to buy some monitors and get into mixing my own music and I wanted to create an album. I never went thourgh with it because I couldn’t afford it. I’m a little older now and can afford to buy the equipment of a studio and sound proof and treat a spare room I have. Thanks to the power of credit lol. Anyway this is a dream ive had for a long time and I don’t want to keep waiting to start practing mixing and recording vocals. So I’ve done a little research and I’m thinking the equipment I’ve picked would pretty much be what I would need to be able to record for pretty much just myself.

Pc windows 10
Yamaha hs7
PreSonus 1 fader daw controller
Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII Mic Preamp
Schiit Magni & Modi 3
RØDE nt1-a condenser mic
Sennheiser Hd650 and hd280 pro
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII midi

So I’m in a pretty small recetangler room and I’m thinking I’m going to go with one hs7 and use the hd650 for a left and right speaker. Maybe add in another hs7 later. I’m just wondering if all this equipment works together fine or not? Is it like a custom pc that all the parts to need be compatible? Is there any recommendations you guys have for a newbie? Is there anything missing? Is any equipment here that anybody feels is unnecessary? Are master clocks needed to master?

I’m planing on doing some ear training course and a course on reason and just practice the keyboard and I plan on auto tuning my voice cuz my sh*t stinks! I’m pretty fast learner plus I have time to dedicate to this so I’d like to have a good idea in a year or so and just start gaining experience and in three years time when I feel ready start my album.

Ok everyone thanks for reading this long post.


Member for

7 years 9 months

paulears Sun, 11/18/2018 - 14:02
Some obvious dead certs - but what's with the boutique interface and headphone amp? Same thing with the old school, but nice Pre-73. Are you sure going with one speaker is a good idea? To me, this is kit for serious folk who have decided the common setups are not for them. The NT-1 is a nice basic mic, very usable. The master keyboard can be a real pain as it's got so few keys, meaning that if you're trying to do some things, you will get pretty cross. Drums can be spread out by default over quite a few notes. You can do remapping of course to condense things to smaller keyboards, but then you need different layouts for different samplers or synths etc.

You mention you are going on an ear training course - which makes me question the choice of kit? You're making life hard for yourself before you have got your feet under the table.

Two pairs of headphones, a mono interface, some clever headphone amps, fader controls, one speaker, and an indeterminate PC.

My list would perhaps keep the NT1, match it to a beginners interface - one of the sub £100 popular ones, the HD280s as they are sealed back, two speakers and a 61 note keyboard as a minimum. Once you get good at using that lot, then maybe try the clever stuff - but no way would I use my available funds on the presonus fader controller. I don't need it at all. Sitting outside my studio in a flight case is a Behringer X32, and I could use that for fader stuff - I tried it once, and couldn't be bothered to do it again. I don't need real faders. A touch screen monitor is nice though. The HS7's are popular, a little bright for me - but perfectly usable. I've never needed a posh preamp/interface, but for me more inputs is a must.

If you're not a singer, and don't want to record instruments, then maybe you need to look at a different mic to flatter your voice more than the quite revealing Rode. They're not a warm mic to my ears, which if your voice is a bit, er, uncontrolled - might be less enhancing and more revealing?

Member for

12 years 4 months

kmetal Sun, 11/18/2018 - 14:53
Forget tbe rode, get a sure dynamic to start with. Sure sm 57/58s are arguably the best all around mic ever made. Then get a focusrite isa pre instead of the golden age.

With those items your using world class professional gear, which just happens to be fairly low/mid priced. Not some cheesy knock off, or some junk condenser mic. Rode only made the nt1 for a reltively short time as a poor mans neumann. They got a good rep, then produced the 1-A, a terrible mic good for just about nothing. The focusrite isa pre was designed by rupert neve in a "money dont matter", console design contract. The golden age is a cheap knck off of a rupert neve 1073. Get the real thing, for the same price as the over marketed junk. Sure dynamic mics are just fabulous. They sound excellent, take eq and compression well, and are forgiving to non perfect rooms.

Theres a reason you hear shure mics all the time on recordings and in concert. They just work well.

I would err for the hs8 or preferably tbe hs5 instead. The hs5 have a more focused sound in the mids, where rhe 7 and 8s get a bit muddy, since your asking so much of the crossover and drivers for the price. The hs5 are similar in vein to the ns10, although the hs5 is a bit more flattering.

Save a couple bucks on speakers and add more bass trapping to your room.

Member for

12 years 4 months

kmetal Sun, 11/18/2018 - 14:58
paulears, post: 459741, member: 47782 wrote: The NT-1 is a nice basic mic, very usable.

The nt1 and nt1a are not the same animal Paul. Imho neither one is worth a dime. Theyre bright, nasally, mics that rarely shine on any source. Only hand drums have ever worked well with the nt1a for after owning one for 5 years. Again imo.

Member for

3 years

Michael Gomez Sun, 11/18/2018 - 18:18
Ok so to give some more details I’m planing on mostly doing rap beats and doing the vocals for them. I won’t be recording any real instruments but just play the different digital instruments reason has to offer.

Do you guys think it’s better to forget the hd650 and preamp and just go with two monitors?

I read that the hs8 would sound to loud in a small room. Is it better then to go with the hs5 then the hs7?

What’s uncommon for this setup? I figured this was the norm lol

I just want the best possible sound I guess

Member for

12 years 4 months

kmetal Sun, 11/18/2018 - 19:43
You need headphones for tracking, the headpone out on the apollo will be fine for that. Id not plan on headphones for mixing.

Its not that tbe hs8 is too loud for a small room, its that they arent the most efficient, and your room will lie to you regardless of what speakers you use. Your better off with hs5's and a sub, rather than trying to reproduce the entire spectrum of frequencies with two budget based speakers. The hs series is excellent, but has limitations as any speaker does. Secondly in a small room, bass is going to be uneven sounding relative to the outside world. With a seperate sub you can turn it on for getting the 808 right, then switch it off when your working on vocals and final balances. You cant do this with tbe hs7 or 8 alone. You want the 5s since theyll interact less with the low frequency problems in tbe room, when tbe sub is off. This is the issue with the 7's and 8's they push too much low frequency stuff for small rooms. Beyond that the lows they do push are questionable due to the driver (speaker) and the crossover not being top notch. Again great for the price, sub par relative to a pair of questeds or other high end monitor.

In other words your asking two 7/8" low frequency drivers to do everything from sub lows to 1.5k, and asking them to do it accurately, in a small room, and cheaply. Its too much to ask. Let the sub do the sub, and the 5's handle the upper lows and mids. The important part is being able to turn the sub off and on so your room isnt fooling you during final mix. It also has its own volume control and crossover knob so you can fine tune it better to your room. Plus you can move it around the room for best bass response, while leaving your speakers sitting where they need to for proper imaging.

Thousands of hip hop tracks have used the shure sm-7. If you cant afford it, snag a 57 or beta 57, theyre all good. Tbe sm-7 is just thicker sounding.

The isa is a great match for the sm-7 because its got alot of clean gain. The sm7 loves the gain knob.

Rode and golden age aren't pro units. the st ives transformer alone on a real 1073 cost more than the entire golden age unit, if you can even get your hands on the transformer. Focusrite and shure are on countless records produced by people who could use anything they want. Pro stuff isnt always expensive, its about knowing which are the diamonds and duds regardless of price.

Your potential setup is looking good, but your better off with a basic set of sennheisssrr phones, the apolllo headphone output, and getting the ISA and a sure mic. Your better off with hs5's and a sub than anything else in that price range. Yamaha makes an hs series sub for a good reason. Jbl makes a cheaper one but its not as good. You want the complete hs set. This sub isnt about wall shaking power, its about evenly showing you whats up with the lows on your track.

Ps. Reason is great. I just upgraded to the full version of reason 10.

Member for

8 years 9 months

pcrecord Mon, 11/19/2018 - 05:02
Hey Mickael ! Welcome to (RO)

The worst we can do when starting is to buy stuff because they look cool or somebody told us they are great.
Going for a minimal setup would also be my best bet. PC, interface, mic, monitors and headphones...

Any interface would have headphones output and getting the sound out of the computer just once is easier (multiple audio drivers can get messy)
If you are in an untreated room, a dynamic mic like the sm57 or 58 will reject alot more ambiant noises and reflections than a condenser.
Dynamic mics tend to need more gain then condensers, that's why the ISA preamp has been mention a few times and would be a good choice to have..
But you may not need to buy an external preamp from the get go.
Learning the craft also include growing out of gear and chosing some that matches your evolution.
There is no point of buying expensive gear when you don't hear the difference.

Stereo speakers is a must.
I have the HS8 and work my way with them just fine. (I bought the sub too)

Doing rap music, your first challenge will be the low end.. In an untreated place, they can get out of hand.
So some DIY bass traps would be a good plan too. Stay away from foam to begin with.

Member for

3 years

Michael Gomez Mon, 11/19/2018 - 20:30
Thanks for the welcome pcrecord and thanks to everyone for the info. Fourms are definitely the best part of the internet lol. So idk if I have a trained ear or not to be honest...ever since I was a kid I’ve always whistled along to music in the car. I’ve had phases that I’d listen to different genres for a period of time and even just spend off time having certain songs on repeat. All while whistling lol. I try to hit the highs and lows and for a while now I just add to the music and improvise. It’s annoying for the people around me idk if I have a trained ear or not but I just want to take that course because I read it helps you progress faster.

You guys definitely sound knowledgeable. I agree if my voice sucks I shouldn’t use a mic that’s more clear and the on and off on the subwoofer for the hs5’s sounds practical. I’ve read in other places people don’t agree with doing a mono stereo setup. So I’m thinking of just removing the hd650 and the headphone amp and adding in the second stereo and making them hs5’s. So I revised the list.

Yamaha hs5’s w/ woofer
Shure m-7
Focusrite isa
Sennheiser Hd280 pro
Room treatment

As to the Schiit modi, is that something that’s good when making digital music?

Does the midi board I picked out work well for rap or should I go with a 64 key one like you guys were saying? Should it also have a drum pad and some synths?

For the fader daw, doesn’t it make the mixing experience feel more hands on? Does it speed up the process?

What else can i use besides foam for room treatment?

If you guys could buy your first studio setup again with what you know now, what would it be and why?

Thanks again everyone for the help it’s much appreciated.

Member for

7 years 9 months

paulears Tue, 11/20/2018 - 01:20
If you are thinking about ever using samplers - Native Instruments Kontakt, for example - very popular with the modern music folk, AND traditionalists like me - amazing sounds and weird stuff - then for a couple of hundred you can get a keyboard that works with these things properly - with little LEDs that show you which keys have sounds on them, which keys are controllers etc etc. Some have pads, but they all need to have the ability to map keys, knobs, faders and pads to specific MIDI notes. If you use a small size keyboard, they have issues dealing with a kick sound on note C0, and a snare on D4 and a synth thud on Bb3 - so you need to set up maps for everything - but the next song might have a totally different map because you are using different drum kits. The more notes and more controllers and pads, the better. I have a small one I bought a couple of year back for a portable system. It's just horrible to use. For me - I don't need moving faders at all, and worse, some fader systems struggle with price and motorised faders. Hence why a Behringer X32 can cost less than many fader systems, and you get a mixer for free! I don't need faders, because most of my stuff uses automation, and the screen works for me. My master keyboard could do fader adjustments, but I've never needed it to.

Room treatment you do AFTER you buy the kit and get it working. It's a problem solver, and you need to find the problems first, then make or buy the solutions.

Two speakers, a pair of headphones, a sub and a cheap Shure mic will get you started, and you can spend more money once you get good on that. An SM57 is never wasted when you upgrade it's so useful. Your ears do the buying decisions once you have got started and discovered what works for you. Don't buy everything at once. Much hinges on how you get on with the software you select. I'd urge you to try the demos once you have the kit arrived and try them all out. Very few bad ones, lots of good ones and we all like different software - this is perfectly fine!

Member for

8 years 9 months

pcrecord Tue, 11/20/2018 - 05:54
Michael Gomez, post: 459750, member: 51467 wrote: So idk if I have a trained ear or not to be honest...ever since I was a kid I’ve always whistled along to music in the car. I’ve had phases that I’d listen to different genres for a period of time and even just spend off time having certain songs on repeat. All while whistling lol. I try to hit the highs and lows and for a while now I just add to the music and improvise. It’s annoying for the people around me idk if I have a trained ear or not but I just want to take that course because I read it helps you progress faster.
Ear training isn't about detecting pitch as much as frequencies and knowing how things should sound. Detecting the defects of a track, sensing dynamics and phases.
But none of this would make sense if we didn't know what to do to correct and adjust what we hear.
90% of recording is fixing problems and know when not to fix what isn't broken.. ;)

Michael Gomez, post: 459750, member: 51467 wrote: Yamaha hs5’s w/ woofer
Shure m-7
Focusrite isa
Sennheiser Hd280 pro
Room treatment
I don't see an audio interface here. With high motivation you could choose one with a digital input to plug the ISA preamps (would need their optionnal AD converter)
But god knows why they digital card has jump up in price nearly the same price as the preamp...

My reason for saying so is if you buy a small audio interface, chances are that every inputs will go through some parts of the preamp circuits. This would mean that you won't ever record the ISA but a combination of the ISA sound via a circuit that can alter the sound. The best thing to have is an interface that offers inputs with a direct path to the converter.
But they are more expensive. Altought the converter card is so expensive, maybe we can find an interface with those direct to converter and still save a few bucks..
With a quick look I found the Audient ID22 which has send/return capability. Plugging the ISA to a return input would be what we are looking for. Also you could start with the Audient alone and see if you like the sound.. Audient preamps are very good and might be the best that were ever included in an audio interface..
After a while if you feel the need adding the ISA would be very easy..

Michael Gomez, post: 459750, member: 51467 wrote: What else can i use besides foam for room treatment?
Pannels made of rockwool are far more efficient. Most foam pannel will affect only the high frequencies and not the bass. You end up distorting the room and get unbalanced frequencies using only foam (mainly bass buildups). There is many DIY video on how to build some bass trap on youtube. I made myself a few and wish I never bought foam.. ;)

Michael Gomez, post: 459750, member: 51467 wrote: If you guys could buy your first studio setup again with what you know now, what would it be and why?
I would probably buy the same setup I have now (altought some of my gear have been updated.. )
You should know that I'm aiming to record complete bands so our needs are different.

Of course if you say, no budget limit, I would certainly go overboard with external preamps and compressors.
But I already have 8x ISA, 4x UA-710, 2x UA LA-610 and a fireface 800 (would like to upgrade it in the next year)
So I'm not in bad shape.. ;)

Member for

3 years

Michael Gomez Wed, 11/21/2018 - 10:54
Awesome I can do that! My bad I forgot to mention the audio interface I had picked the presonus audiobox. What do you think?

So Im watching some vs videos on YouTube about mics and Im comparing the sm57 & 58 to the sm7b. I can tell the difference in mics but I feel like it’s not worth the extra money especially if I auto tune my vocals. So I think I’m just going to go with the sm57 for the most raw sound.

A question I just thought of would the rode nta1
Be better for guitars and live instruments? And the sm57 be better for vocals?

I’m looking at the Arturia keylab 61 essential for the midi board. What do you think paulears?

Member for

7 years 9 months

paulears Wed, 11/21/2018 - 11:14
That master keyboard is very nice - I actually bought one of these The keys are unweighted but have aftertouch, plus all the pads and gizmos - I rather like it. The Arturia is a bit 'posher' and has I'm told, a better keyboard - so I think you'd find it a good match for your type of stuff - with all the useful controllers.

Don't forget that the Shure SM57 can have a foam windshield fitted which helps no end - there are lots that will fit it, and solve much of the working right in close problems of pops and blasts.

Member for

8 years 9 months

pcrecord Wed, 11/21/2018 - 11:39
Michael Gomez, post: 459770, member: 51467 wrote: I had picked the presonus audiobox. What do you think?
The audiobox is of fair quality, it doesn't have a digital input nor direct path to converters. But it's a very nice starter interface.

Michael Gomez, post: 459770, member: 51467 wrote: A question I just thought of would the rode nta1
Be better for guitars and live instruments? And the sm57 be better for vocals?
Let's start with the idea that there isn't no right and wrong. Considering the environement and instrument or type of vocal, either mics could be ideal.
The SM57 is a common instrument mic. It performs wonderfully on snare drums and guitar cabs but it can do a lot more.
Its rejection of surrounding sounds and noises are way better than most condenser mics. It's been proposed to you for that main reason.. If the room is untreated, SM57 is a great choice.
If you plan to control the internal reflections of your room with some treatment, then a condenser mics will also be a great choice. At that point you better go in a music store with your favorite headphones and try all the mics available within your set budget. There are many greater choices than the NT1a.. A mic is like a glove they don't fit all. you need to try some and buy what fits your vocal.. Many rap artists use a TLM-49 but they are expensive.

Valid choices could be
  • Mini 47 (less high frequencies warm low end)
  • Warm Audio WA-87
  • Aston Microphones Origin
  • Aston Microphones Spirit
  • Audio-Technica AT4040
  • Audio-Technica AT4050
  • Mojave Audio MA-201fet
  • Rode NT2-A
  • Shure SM7
class="xf-ul"> I'm saying it again, match the mic with your voice we all sound difference therefor the best mic for use are all different.

Althought I'm not a signer, I did a video using a few mics including the sm57 and ISA preamps..
Hope it can inspire you :

Member for

15 years 7 months

Boswell Wed, 11/21/2018 - 15:36
Although they are of good quality, my experience of the Presonus Audiobox units is that they struggle to have sufficient gain for dynamic mics like the SM57, let alone the SM7. The specs imply a maximum gain of less than 40dB. I haven't had the opportunity to verify this on the bench, but it feels low in use.

An Audiobox with a signal gain unit such as a Cloudlifter in front might work well. But then with this combination you a pushing up into the next price bracket, where there are interfaces with greater native gain as well as additional features.

Member for

12 years 4 months

kmetal Wed, 11/21/2018 - 18:33
The 57 is good on everything. Id wait on a secobd mic until you know what holes you need to fill.

Id also invest in some rigid fiberglass panels right away since mix rooms have a basic formula to start with, tgeres no reason to wait. Ats acoustics makes some goid reasonably priced panels, or go the diy route.

Im not sure if you meant pre amp for every instrument or actually mean amp. A fender tube amp works well for guitars and keys alike, probably closest to a universal amp out there.

If tou meant pre amp, the ISA will fit the bill for any source.

Member for

8 years 9 months

pcrecord Thu, 11/22/2018 - 04:53
Michael Gomez, post: 459773, member: 51467 wrote: Another question the focusrite ida amp could that be an amp for a guitar and vocals or a keyboard all at the same time?
The ISA is a preamp not an amplifier. Preamps are made to get mic levels to recording levels because they produce very little current.
You can then put the mic in front of anything you want to record.
Some preamps have a DI input for instruments (instruments with pickups, basses guitars etc..) But the main thing of a preamp is mic to record level.
Amplifiers are commonly made to power speakers, guitar cab, studio monitors and headphones, etc...

In your case, you are going to record your vocal and use virtual instruments and/or samples. Unless you want to record instruments, you don't need more than a mic, a preamp and an interface, some monitors and a computer.. (well the list isn't so short after all) ;)

Member for

3 years

Michael Gomez Wed, 01/09/2019 - 14:35
Ok everybody so I made my purchase.

I went with the Yamaha hs5 set and the woofer I have the presonus audio box and the sm57 shure mic

I’m thinking Ableton push 2 now after more research and the rnc1773 really nice compressor

Later down the line try out diffrent pre amps and mics.

So I’m not sure how to wire my setup lol.

Can anyone help?
I have
6 male to 1/4 cable
4 female to 1/4 cable
1 male to female cable
6 1/4 to 1/4 jack

What order does all this plug in?

Member for

15 years 7 months

Boswell Wed, 01/09/2019 - 15:46
Assuming that where you say "male" and "female" you are talking about XLR connectors, you need the XLR M-F cable for connecting the microphone into the Audiobox.

What you don't say is whether the jack leads have TS or TRS plugs. TS (unbalanced) plugs are no good in this application, so the next bit assumes all the jack plugs are TRS (balanced).

Use a pair of TRS - XLR(M) leads to connect the Audiobox line outputs 1,2 to the sub XLR inputs, then two XLR(F) - TRS leads to go from the sub XLR outputs to the TRS inputs on the main speakers.

Further things you didn't say include which model of Audiobox you have, and how you had intended to use the RN compressor. The RNC1773 is designed for use as an unbalanced insert device, with each of its channels connecting via a TRS lead to insert jacks on a mixer or other device. Some audio interfaces have insert jacks in their signal chain between the output of the pre-amp section and the A-D converters, but I don't believe any of the Audiobox range does. We'll need some clarification from you as to your intentions regarding the RNC before we can suggest appropriate connections there.